Brand Republic Twitter Event (#BR140)

I’m a little late writing this up as it happened on Tuesday, but luckily my mental age is not so advanced that I can’t think back two days (provided you’re not asking me what I had for dinner).

Brand Republic‘s Twitter Event: Winning Formulas (sic)* to Maximise the Potential of Twitter, was targetted as a workshop for people only just dipping a toe into Twitter, and involved the following:

  • An introduction to Twitter and examples of good and bad use by brands from Mark Palmer (@MaverickMark)
  • A case study from me about @dogstrust
  • An interview between Brand Republic’s outgoing editor Gordon MacMillan (@GordonMacMillan) and Dan from Innocent, the smoothie company (@innocentdrinks)
  • A panel involving me, my ex-Shiny colleague Stuart Waterman – now Web Editor of karaoke chain Lucky Voice (@luckyvoice) and Kerry Bridge, Head of Digital Communication at Dell (@KerryatDell)

I feel quite happy with the approach I’ve taken recently in analysing events not in terms of a step-by-step run through – you can get that by doing a hashtag search for #BR140 – but by doing a few positive and negative take-outs from the day.

The Good:

  • The interview format for Dan worked very well, and having someone there from a big, recognisable brand talking with absolute honesty about their failures as well as their successes was fantastic. His positive attitude towards Innocent’s followers and faith in transparency and honesty were refreshing. It helps that he’s an engaging speaker. Taking it away from the speaker and presentation format – which I’m not knocking, especially as it worked for me! – was timely and added more of a workshop feel.
  • Pitching was to the right level of audience, and the different items on the programme rolled fluidly from one to the other. Around 25% of the people there hadn’t used Twitter before, and most of them seemed a lot more confident and happy at the thought by the end of the day.
  • As a speaker, I appreciated the thoughtful organisation done by Mark beforehand, who invited questions from us that the panel could address (as a backup in case the audience was uncertain) and reminded us of the key areas to cover.
  • The balance of the panel and speakers was good. Agencies, start ups, charities and big corporations were all given their due which, to a mixed audience, was important. We all want to know we’re getting ideas from ‘people like us’ at the same time as opening our minds to behaving differently. I relentlessly tweeted quotes from Dan because it was nice to know that a big company has the same attitude to tweeting as us!
  • I have to give a heads-up to the lovely scones, jam, cream and tea. Mmm.

The Bad:

  • There wasn’t much really. We had a bit of a technology fail, which was mostly down to a Mac’s screen resolution getting pissy with the projector screen. It really could have been worse, though.

The Standout Take-Outs:

  • Mark’s exhortations to be honest – if there’s one thing worse than a fail, it’s a fail that’s blamed suspiciously on people unable to defend themselves *cough* Habitat intern *cough*.
  • Dan’s “just go and do it” advice. We operate on much the same principle. And I would advocate always trying out the tools under your own name first before trying to do it professionally; in fact I suggest it very strongly every time a new centre wants to tweet for us!
  • Kerry’s advice to deal with crises in the right space; if people are worrying on Twitter and YouTube, respond there, taking every step you reasonably can to offer good customer service.
  • Stuart’s reminder that it’s supposed to be fun, and that people following might not mind being sold to occasionally, but that’s not why they signed up. Be prepared to go off-topic and off-beat to get really engaged followers.

The Summary:

You probably won’t want to attend the next such event in February if you’re already confident and opinionated about Twitter, as it’ll probably be a touch too basic. But if you’re floundering, it’s a good, non-judgemental environment in which to air concerns and have your questions answered, from basic how-to (someone asked about hashtags, for example) to worries about time management.

Then again, even if you are pretty confident, you can never know it all about Twitter and you can always learn from someone else’s example.


*The actual plural is ‘formulae’. Given my wealth of typos, it’s probably wrong that this bothers me as much as it does.